On Thursday, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled out the block on accessing the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, for over two-year in the country is a violation of freedom of expression.
The ruling of the court opens a way for lifting the ban on the website that has been in place since 2017. The ban was made due to entries that cited Turkey of possessing links to terrorist organizations.
The court said on its website that it had ruled “the freedom of expression that is under the protection of the 26th clause of the Constitution, had been violated.”
The non-profit organization, Wikimedia Foundation that hosts Wikipedia had petitioned to the highest court of Turkey challenging the block for access.
The lawyer representing Wikimedia, Gonenc Gurkaynak, wrote on Twitter, “One of the sad issues is that we expressed on every platform from the first day that the process of blocking access to the whole of Wikipedia was unlawful.”
He also said, “Yet, we had to drag out the problem by filing a lawsuit both with the European Court of Human Rights and the Constitutional Court fighting for this issue for years.”
The ruling out of ban was passed by a 10-to-6 majority in the court, said a lawyer, Yaman Akdeniz, who had appealed to the court as a user.
In April 2017, Turkey blocked Wikipedia when the telecommunications watchdog quoted a law enabling it to ban access to sites believed offensive or a threat to the national security.
The Constitutional Court has to send a written statement to Turkey’s telecommunication watchdog to lift the ban, Akdeniz told Reuters, continuing that in the past, similar rulings were performed within 24 hours.
He also said, ” Legally, the lower court does not have any right to resist the ruling, but there have been recent cases where the lower courts did not implement the Constitutional Court ruling immediately.“
Akdeniz told that the articles, which led to the ban, would remain online.
Turkey’s judiciary independence has been debated hotly in recent years, where critics say that the court rulings are controlled by politicians. President Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party deny such claims, stating that the judiciary makes independent decisions.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of the site, welcomed the ruling. He tweeted with a photo of himself that was clicked on his previous trip to Istanbul along with the message, “Welcome back, Turkey!”
Welcome back, Turkey! pic.twitter.com/txeAnBMpLE
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) December 26, 2019